Chapter Twenty Nine: New Life

We lived in our own house, 3 homes from my wife’s parents.  We owe a lot to my mother-in-law who helped us to raise our children, for both my wife and I were working.  I worked in the carpentry shop, and my wife worked as a nurse in the local hospital.  My wife worked shifts.  Often when she had to work day shifts, then there was nowhere to leave the children.  Then my mother-in-law stepped in.  Besides her own 6 children as well as ours, Zoe’s children also came.  Like a kind grandmother, my mother-in-law found enough time and affection for everyone.

I looked up to my mother-in-law, although I did hurt her sometimes with unpleasant situations.  They occurred on paydays after I got drunk.  Although it happened rarely, as they say, it still hurt.  Sin did its job and firmly held me in its clutches.  Although God out of His love for me kept His guardian angel over me, still Satan sometimes managed to get me and do damage.  Such as what happened this time, when on payday, I was detained by my friends at the break room and got drunk on wine.  I recall how I was one of the last ones to leave.  I sat on my bicycle and pedaled home.  It was still light outside.  My daily route to work went near the cemetery.  I rode along the tall dam over a canal which passed through the cemetery.  How did I still manage to hold onto the bicycle on such a narrow dam with a width of only 2 meters?

Suddenly, I lost control of the handle bar and went off the dam.  My wheel smashed right into a wooden cross of the nearest grave.  In an unconscious state, I embraced the cross and fell into a dead sleep.

I woke up late at night.  Over my head stars shone brightly and illuminated the crosses and grave monuments around me.  Some night bird gave out a ghastly cry.  My bicycle lay nearby.  Once I remembered where I was and what had happened, I slowly got up, sat on my bicycle, and went home.  At home waiting for me were my suffering wife and mother-in-law.  They sat near our sleeping children.  Quietly, not saying one word to justify myself and hearing out all that they told me, I went to my bed to sleep off the rest of the night.

The next day, the same scene repeated itself.  After a long, tough day, we decided to get drunk, and everything started again.  This time, again under strong intoxication but without accident, I made it home in all of 2 hours.  Once again, I saw my crying wife and upset mother-in-law.  They began to scold and blame me.  At that time, in order not to hear their harangues, I chose to leave home.  My mother-in-law blocked my way at the outdoor steps.  Both of them dislodged me and attempted to bring me inside the house.  I escaped and ran outside.  They did not chase me.  After some time, I came into the house again.  In an unconscious condition, I seized my little daughter Galyochka.  Whatever she was wrapped in, I took her into the darkness of the night.

No one chased me as apparently neither my wife nor mother-in-law had noticed me.  I stumbled around on foot but did not fall, for in my arms was a precious cargo, my beloved child.  I came to my sister’s, who turned pale from fright.  She took my daughter from my arms who amazingly did not cry while I carried her on that scary journey.  Pasha put her in her own bed and then put me to sleep in that room already familiar to the reader.

I awoke in the morning and could not fathom how I wound up in that room.  My sister told me everything in order, how I came utterly drunk and brought in my hands my baby.  It took an hour to walk to my sister’s house.  When she put us both to sleep, two hours later, my wife and mother-in-law found us here at my sister’s.  They did not wake me up but took our baby and went home.

It was a hard blow to my soul.  I myself was not happy.  Sin tortured me.  I knew that I was inflicting immeasurable pain on my wife and relatives.  I tried not to sin.  When I found strength not to sin, I myself spent time in happiness.  But again and again, I burst out.  Of course, living in such a way was intolerable.

So the time came when my wife declared to me that she would have to divorce me if I not stop drinking.  I deeply became aware of my guilt and asked her forgiveness.  I promised her this would never happen again.  Similar to the time when I enrolled in the seventh grade at the Klokov School and restrained myself during probation of one month, so this time I decided resolutely to part with this sin.  I understood that if I did not change my life, then a fatal resolution inevitably would result.  I quit smoking a long time ago right after my wedding.  Although the temptation to smoke was strong, I firmly suppressed this desire within myself.  Yet still, 10 years later, I could no longer hold out and smoked.  Then I started to vomit.  Since that time, I cannot stand it when I smell tobacco smoke from people near me.

Now I broke with this sin, the sin of drunkenness.  I constantly went to church with my wife and children.  I tried hard to understand the essence of Holy Scripture.  I thought a lot about why God tolerated my sin for so long, why with his unlimited power and might He put up with me and the deafness of people, His creation.

It seemed to me that God could in one moment exterminate from the face of the Earth this pathetic creation and create for Himself a new, obedient one that would have brought joy to His eyes.

Many incomprehensible questions took root in my head.  Sometimes I thought to the point that my brain ached, but I could not receive a clear answer.  I envied those people who came to church after several sermons, repented, and changed their lives.

Once, I read a place in the Bible that states, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”  (Isaiah 55:8)  “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”  (John 15:16)

Then I heard a sermon in which one brother explained the condition of human faith like the action of a driver.  He said this, “When I drive a car up a mountain and realize that the car won’t make it, I put it in third gear.  Then second gear, and if it still does not make it, then I put it into first gear.  Finally, with higher speed I make the ascent.  That is how life is, when I can understand nothing about what God is doing with us.  I rely solely on faith, for only faith can carry us to where we need to go.”

I firmly resolved to take this path.  I remember one church service.  A young brother from Alma-Aty preached a sermon.  He spoke about God’s mercy to sinful people.  For comparison, he used the example of how a king came to a prison and ordered the prisoners to line up in formation.  The king announced, “Whoever can prove his innocence will receive absolution promptly.”  The whole formation stepped forward and each person justified himself.  Only one prisoner stayed in the corner and stood silently.  When the king asked him why he did not defend himself, the prisoner humbly answered that he was completely guilty and did not deserve absolution.  Then the king promptly gave him freedom and left the rest in prison.

I felt that the prisoner standing quietly in the corner was me.  I deserved no justification after so much suffering which I had inflicted upon myself, my wife, and my children.  And I loudly declared so everyone could hear it, “Now or never!”

I got up, went forward, and repented.  I wept.  It was difficult to communicate in words that joy which I finally felt in my heart.

After the service, brothers and sisters came to me and sincerely congratulated me with my wise decision.  In other words, I put my trust in faith.  I understood that everything that ever happened with me, beginning from my very childhood up to that day was under the will of God.  He ordained that I underwent that fire of suffering and sin, so that as a result I would truly become His child.  It meant there was no other alternative.

From that day, I firmly changed my life.  At work they quickly learned of my decision.  Friends began to mock me.  One friend told me, “What happened, did you become a Baptist?”

“Yes,” I answered.  “I would advise you to become a Baptist, not a Barstoolist.”

Even the director of the factory, Pyotr Pavlovich Lebedev, summoned me to his office and talked with me for a long time.

As much as I was able, I explained to him that I thought I had made the right decision,  I believed in the existence of a creating power called God.  It was a lot easier to believe in a rational power than that everything had created itself, as they attempted to indoctrinate us in the lectures on atheism.  “Some microbes crawled out of a swamp and gradually evolved and multiplied – and then appeared man.”  The director smiled at my words and wished me the best of luck in my decision.  He let me leave.

Soon we had a third child, a son whom we named Mishutka.  He grew up a healthy and strong baby.  But tragedy struck.  I was at work, and my wife was with the kids at home.  She was about to work the night shift.  At 11 AM, my wife went to the store located 10-15 minutes from our house.  She commanded Sergey and Galya to watch Mishenka who she put in our bed in our room.  The bed was moved toward a locked door that at one time connected the bedroom with the hall.  Between the bed and the door formed a crack of about 30 centimeters.

While their mother was at the store, the kids got caught up in playing outside and never once looked into the room.  But Mishenka, who had just turned 7 months, played by himself and fell into the crack between the bed and the door.  His body was stuck, and his head was placed facedown into the mattress.  He suffocated.

When my wife returned and stopped by the room, it was already too late.  She took the still warm baby and tried to do artificial resuscitation.  It was all in vain.  They called the ambulance.  The authorities ruled it was asphyxiation – death by suffocation.  They summoned me from work, but what could I do?  Whom could I blame?  My wife, who had put her trust in the children who got carried away with playing and forgot about her strict order?  It was very difficult to endure such sorrow.

We buried him in the new cemetery 5 kilometers outside of the city.  Out of extreme emotional stress, my wife fell ill.  Even here, utterly despicable people put out the rumor that we Baptists offered our son as a sacrifice.

What unfair cruelty and deception!  The enemy of human souls uses all kinds of tactics in an effort to inflict woe on Christian people.  He utilizes all possible skills.  Here he invented even this device.

It affected my wife so deeply that her blood pressure rose up to 220 and never declined again.

As a man who had experienced so much pain and suffering in my own childhood, I endured this grief more easily than my wife.

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”   (Job 1:21)

The long suffering Job whom God permitted to suffer much once uttered these words.  But he remained faithful to God.  God blessed him and gave him more than what he had lost.  We read about this in the book of Job.

Soon we had another daughter named Tanyochka.  Finally, our life went into a normal routine.  Children grew up obedient and healthy.  We had abundance in our home.

I took up beekeeping without taking a break from work.  At first I had the necessary transportation – a bicycle.

Technology in our country advanced.  Motorcycles appeared, and I bought a motorcycle called “Korovets”.  Then I bought an “Iva”.  Then my demands and opportunities grew, and as soon as they produced the first model “Zhiguly”, the men in the organization assigned me that automobile.  It was in 1973.  It was a very good, reliable model.

We raised rabbits on our property.  They multiplied up to 200 rabbits.  The younger brother of my brother helped me a lot in this endeavor.  With me, they prepared hay and cleaned out the rabbit cages.  For this I drove them first on my bicycle, then on the motorcycle.   When I bought the car, we took our whole family and drove to the hives and to the cities of Alma-Aty, Karaganda, Fergana, and Tashkent.

We lived on friendly and happy terms.

Beekeeping is a very interesting and profitable venture.  Children always helped me.  Time passed, and my children grew up.

And then the time came for my son Sergey to join the Army.  Two years later, he returned intact and honestly served out his tour of duty.  Like birds that grow up and leave their parents’ nest, the time came for my children to flee their parents’ home.

The first to flee the nest was my daughter Galochka.  She married a believer named Nikolay Leven, a German by ethnicity.  They moved in with his parents.  Later they built their own house and lived happily and got along well.

Following Galya was my son Sergey who married.  His wife was Vera Georgievna Anisimova, also from a Christian family.  They moved to our house, and my wife and I moved to temporary housing.

Praise God that our wife and I managed to raise good, obedient children and show them the love of God.  All of them became church members.  My son became a choir director in the church.

Of course, the credit for raising our children belonged to my wife and mother-in-law.  As I could, I tried to help them in this affair.  I am happy that the Lord changed my life at the root and did not allow my children to undergo that which He allowed me to experience in my years of childhood and adolescence.

I bought musical instruments: a mandolin, violin, accordion, and later on, a fortepiano.  In our house every evening, music and song were heard.  We organized our own home orchestra.  We had a large and warm family.

Almost every evening, all the Chemurins, Shumeykins, and Christian neighbors gathered at our house.  When the orchestra played, I banged with spoons in rhythm.  Instead of drums, we used a converted empty saucepan.  Some could play music with combs.  It turned out to be joyous and noisy.  We sang many Christian hymns.  Our home was hospitable.  I think I will remember it the rest of my life.  All our neighbors respected us, and we lived in peace with them.

One time I bought a television.  And the enemy of human souls almost sucked us in with this achievement of science and technology.  In the beginning, we began to watch only harmless and, I would even say, good films like “Animal World”, “Travelers’ Club”, and kids cartoons.  These films were useful for curiosity and could not bring us harm or exert a negative influence on our spiritual state.

But then, subtly we got used to it.  We were glued to the screen and watched everything in a row, all that had a harmful influence on our minds and souls, especially those of children.  The films showed murder, robbery, rape, war, perversion, naked men and women, sex, kissing, etc.  I personally am not opposed to television if it is used wisely.  You can learn many useful things and watch with pleasure Christian films like “The Life of Jesus Christ” and others.

But to a degree among Christian families who have televisions, Satan weakens the watchfulness of the Christian and begins to feed him spoiled food without noticing it and makes his heart cold toward serving God.

That is what occurred with us.  We hurried home from church for we knew that at a certain time an interesting film would begin.  All our family got together in our home at the television screen.  Then there was nowhere to sit, so they lied and sat on the floor.  If a film dragged on, children even fell asleep in front of the screen.  We watched all kinds of fighters and other such genres.  Even my mother-in-law came over on a regular basis.  She sat wherever it was comfortable and knitted socks for her grandchildren while she sat and watched the screen with her eyes above her glasses.  She never fell asleep in such a position.

Our singing and orchestras almost ceased.  I felt a growing depressive heaviness in my heart.

So one time on the screen appeared some unclean spirits dressed in black robes with guitars in their hands.  Beating the music in rhythm, they cried loudly, “God says, ‘Yes!’  God says ‘Yes!’”  The largest demon among them, a naked creature with fully grown long hair with large horns on its head, shouted above them, “But the devil says, ‘No!’  But the devil says, ‘No!’”

I looked at the children, whose hair stood on end.  Looking at one another and crushed, they smiled.  Everything in the room became quiet.  And my heart beat!  I quickly turned off the television.  Quietly, everyone who was depressed departed.

And I thought – what was I doing?  How much effort we invested in raising our children, making them real people who followed the Creator, the all-high God?  We had such success!  So much joy and happiness was in our home, and then suddenly…

The next morning, I wrapped the television in a cloth and took it to the department store and sold it for 10 rubles.  Not only did I have no regret, but I had joy.  From that time onward, I consider a television in a Christian family without wise use to be a cleverly disguised trap placed by the enemy of men’s souls unnoticed to capture the souls of both children and adult Christians.

After being saved from the television, music and song once again filled our home with the joy we used to enjoy before.

Since that time, when I visit Christian families who have television, I observe this sort of scene.  Adults sit at the screen, and children as usual sit on the floor.  The television shows some perverse film.  Lovers are kissing or begin to have open sex.  Instead of turning off the television, the adults tell their children to close their eyes.  The kids obediently close them and wait when everything is over.  They close their eyes, but their minds are pondering what is happening.  In the future, they can even repeat the act themselves.

Yes, in those years, television just got started.  Now it is already 1998 on our planet!  Here are several examples from the Russian newspaper published in America:

“Tupelo, Mississippi: According to the latest data from the American Family Association, violence on television in the last 6 months declined by 30%, but sexual acts rose by 31%, and uncensored speech rose by 26%.  Studies show also that 94% of television shows during prime time contain violence, sex, and cussing.  88% of sexual acts were outside of marriage…  For the year, the four major television networks showed 16,822 sexual events, 26,195 scenes with vulgar language, and 9,412 scenes of violence out of a total of 526,429 scenes!”  (Newspaper “Our Days”, June 20, 1996)

It is frightening to read about such data.  After getting rid of my television, our home once again hosted music and singing.  I have never ever regretted disposing of the television.  Our life returned to its old routine.

And then new joy – our daughter Galya gave birth to a son whom they named Yura.  From that day, my wife and I had become grandparents!  We had our first grandson.  Then Sergey and Vera had a daughter Inna.  Cares and people grew.  Grandchildren were spreading like mushrooms.

But along with happiness, sadness also paid a visit to us.  Each day my wife’s blood pressure rose and attained a terrible number of 240.  No folk medicines, regular medicines, or professors to whom I drove my wife could help.  We wrote to famous professors at a prestigious institute in Moscow asking for help.  They answered that they would put us in a cue and told us to wait.

But our turn only came the next year, when my wife had already entered Eternity with God, where there are no illnesses, and where doctors are not needed.  She died in the hospital where she had worked putting others to bed for 22 long years.  Not long before her death, our children commemorated our silver 25th wedding anniversary, but then premature separation.  She was 45 years old.  We lived together for 26 years.  She was a kind, faithful wife, tender and intelligent mother, a model Christian, having raised 3 children for the Lord.  I am indebted to her for with her patience and affection she helped to free me from sin and become a Christian.  I was a great sinner.  I had brought Nina much woe, but God heard her prayers, the prayers of the church, and the prayers of our children and all my numerous relatives.  In 1962, I concluded my pact with the Lord and was saved from inevitable death.

We buried here in the same cemetery where our Mishutka was interred.  The children put a marble monument in their mother’s memory.  I am certain that the memory of any mother always remains in the hearts of children and grandchildren.  I was 50 years old when I became a widower.

I often ponder human life and often ask myself the question: why along with joy does tribulation often visit us?  One poet answered me with these words:

“Sometime in a world without shadows,

Not here, but there in the heavenly azure,

We will understand the meaning of woes

And… we will understand this treasure.

Why everything grew dark all around

Why success was nowhere to be found

And the song…  suddenly everything was visible,

In the heavenly country all to us will be understandable.

God knows all things – He holds the key,

Our entire life in His hand.

Only there at peace we will be,

In that divine heavenly land!

Trust God in all always –

He guides us in our ways.

Now it is dark – but close is the heavenly land

And there?  There we will all understand.”

 

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